Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Nov 28th 2008 5:00PM by James Sullivan
Hynde was a transplanted Akron, Ohio, native living in London in the mid-1970s, where she was writing about rock 'n' roll for the New Musical Express. After a few false starts forming bands of her own, she became musically and romantically involved with bassist Pete Farndon, a committed rebel-rocker with a penchant for samurai imagery. Farndon quickly recruited two fellow natives of the town of Hereford to join the new band. James Honeyman-Scott was a local guitarist who was growing vegetables to supplement his income; Chambers, the drummer, was working as a driving instructor.
Honeyman-Scott was a versatile guitarist whose ringing arpeggios and rockabilly sensibility, along with Hynde's own unorthodox timing, were critical to the band's musical identity. Honeyman-Scott drew inspiration from Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello and influenced a generation of guitarists to come, notably the Smiths' Johnny Marr, who would later become a short-term member of the Pretenders.
With timeless songs such as 'Brass in Pocket' and 'Mystery Achievement,' the Pretenders' self-titled debut made the group overnight stars. The band stuck to the script, hitting the rock 'n' roll lifestyle hard. Both Farndon (no longer linked to Hynde) and Honeyman-Scott married models. Several month after the release of the band's second album, Hynde called a meeting and booted Farndon, her ex-lover, out of the group for problems caused by his growing drug addiction.
Two days later, Honeyman-Scott -- the man the newly expelled bassist had hand-picked for the group -- was dead of heart failure after ingesting a lethal amount of cocaine. Farndon, still battling his own demons, was in the process of starting a band with another outcast British punk, former Clash drummer Topper Headon, when he drowned in his bathtub after overdosing on heroin, just a few months after Honeyman-Scott's death.
But Hynde is about as unsinkable as they come. Under her command, the Pretenders soldiered on, ironically replacing Honeyman-Scott, her musical soul mate, with a guitarist he'd recommended for the band before his death, Robbie McIntosh. The lineup has changed routinely since, with only Chambers more or less remaining constant behind Hynde. After being inducted to the Hall of Fame by an admiring Neil Young, Hynde admitted her band had "looked like a tribute band for the last 20 years." The real tribute, she said, was to Honeyman-Scott and Farndon, "without whom we wouldn't be here. On the other hand, without us, they might have been here. But that's the way it works in rock 'n' roll."
We'll gladly take her word for it.